Commonwealth Games must not discriminate
Glasgow2014 urged to secure pledges from competing nations
London - 11 June 2014
Organisers of next month’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, are being urged to secure pledges of non-discrimination from participating countries.
The Peter Tatchell Foundation has written to the Chief Executive of Glasgow 2014, David Grevemberg - a copy of the letter follows below.
“We are asking Glasgow2014 to require competing nations to sign a pledge of non-discrimination in their team selection, in accordance with Article 7 of the constitution of the Commonwealth Games Federation - but with expanded grounds of non-discrimination such as ethnicity, caste, sexual orientation and gender identity,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“This would be a very significant, high-impact equality initiative. It has never been done before and would make Glasgow2014 unique, trailblazing and rightly deserving of public acclaim.
“While all participating countries agree to accept the Commonwealth Games constitution, which includes Article 7, this is a mere formality. They have never been specifically asked to agree to non-discrimination.
“Prejudice, discrimination and legal victimisation are prevalent in many Commonwealth countries, which may prevent affected athletes securing access to top class sports facilities and training camps - and inhibit their selection for the Commonwealth Games. This needs to be challenged.
“The Commonwealth Games should foster a culture of equality where athletes compete solely on the basis of merit.
“We hope Glasgow 2014 will accept our proposal to further enhance its existing commitment to equality,” said Mr Tatchell.
Copy of the Peter Tatchell Foundation letter to Glasgow2014
Glasgow 2014, Commonwealth Games
10 June 2014
Dear David Grevemberg
Non-discrimination pledge from countries competing at the Commonwealth Games
Article 7 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth Games Federation states: “there shall be no discrimination against any country or person on any grounds whatsoever, including race, colour, gender, religion or politics.”
Currently, 41 of the 53 Commonwealth member countries have laws that criminalise homosexuality. Seven of these have a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. In parts of two Commonwealth countries - Nigeria and Pakistan - lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people can face execution under Sharia law.
In addition, these countries have such high levels of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia that it would be very difficult - if not impossible - for an openly LGBT athlete to be selected by their country to compete in the Commonwealth Games. Prejudice would almost certainly preclude their selection - and preclude their access to international level training facilities within their home countries.
While Glasgow2014 cannot be held responsible for the anti-gay laws of 80% of Commonwealth member states, it does have a responsibility to ensure that there is no discrimination by participating nations in the selection of their national teams.
This issue of discrimination in team selection is not confined to LGBT competitors. In some Commonwealth countries there are serious problems of prejudice and discrimination based on ethnicity, caste, gender and disability. This may diminish access to top class sports facilities and training camps - and inhibit selection for the Commonwealth Games.
While we congratulate Glasgow2014 on its commitment to not discriminate, we believe you also have a duty to ensure that competing nations give an undertaking of non-discrimination in their team selection.
We request that Glasgow2014 requires all competing nations to sign a pledge on the Opening Day of the Commonwealth Games that they do not discriminate in team selection on the grounds of race, ethnicity, caste, gender, disability, faith or non-faith, sexual orientation or gender identity.
This would uphold Article 7 of the constitution and values of the Commonwealth Games - and send an important signal that Glasgow 2014 is inclusive and committed to ensure equality for all competitors and nations.
The commitment to non-discrimination needs to come from the top and be publicly visible - not only from the Commonwealth Games organisers but from every national team too.
Making Article 7 a reality requires an active pledge by all the participating national teams.
We ask you to facilitate this.
Thank you for considering our request.
Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation